The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) yesterday said plans had been finalised to distribute 27,000 metric tonnes of rice paddy directly to millers nationwide effective June 24.
The initiative which is being undertaken in partnership with the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), is expected to address the rising cost of food prices in the Nigerian market.
The move will come as huge relief to Nigerians who have raised concerns that despite the bountiful harvest season, the prices of food commodities especially rice had been on the increase.
Stakeholders have variously blamed the middlemen for hoarding the commodity in order to benefit from an artificial scarcity, thereby unduly affecting prices.
But the CBN and relevant farmers’ associations had assured that prices will plummet once the harvest came.
The apex bank however, stated that the direct allocation from RIFAN warehouses across 16 states of the federation followed the earlier sale of paddy aggregated as loan repayment under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) to millers from the rice pyramids recently unveiled in Niger, Kebbi, Gombe and Ekiti states.
The CBN in a statement by the acting Director, Corporate Communications Department, Mr. Osita Nwanisobi, pointed out that Kaduna State had been selected as key location for the paddy allocation exercise which will be done simultaneously in the states that recorded the highest quality of rice harvests during the last farming season.
He said the new strategy was in line with the bank’s mandate of ensuring price stability and its focus of being a people-centered central bank.
Nwanisobi also expressed optimism that the allocation of the paddies would trigger a decline in the prices of rice in the country, boost availability, and ultimately check the activities of middlemen seeking to create artificial scarcity along the supply chains.
The CBN, working with relevant agencies, had in January triggered the release of about 300,000 metric tonnes of maize from strategic anchors under the ABP which forced down the prices of maize from N180,000 per metric tonne.
The economy had witnessed upward inflationary trajectory for 18 consecutive months in recent times, caused largely by food inflation.
However, analysts are optimistic that addressing the insecurity challenges bedeviling the country could further impact positively on prices.